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Army Procurement Head Resigns As Service Reviews Buying Process

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Army's top procurement official, Claude M. Bolton Jr., resigned yesterday after six years on the job.

Bolton, a retired Air Force major general, will step down as assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology on Jan. 2.

His resignation comes as Army leaders begin to analyze how the service runs its $4-billion-a-year procurement operation in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. Pete Geren, the secretary of the Army, set up an independent commission in August to review how the service buys water, food and other goods after one of the biggest procurement scandals in the Iraq reconstruction effort came to light. In July, Army Maj. John Cockerham was charged along with his wife and his sister with conspiracy, money-laundering and bribery for allegedly taking $9.6 million in bribes from contractors while Cockerham worked as a contracting officer at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.

Last month, Geren's commission -- which is headed by Jacques Gansler, who served as the top procurement official at the Pentagon during the Clinton administration -- issued a 100-page report sharply criticizing the Army's procurement process.

The report said there were systematic problems in the process and that the service needed to hire another 1,400 contracting officers, both civilian and military. It also faulted the Army for not putting enough trained and experienced contracting officers in combat zones.

Bolton and Gansler are scheduled to testify next week before a Senate subcommittee on the commission's report.

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